Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: How True Crime Podcasts Helped Me Find My Voice Again

A few weeks ago, I drove three hours from my house to the Dallas area stay the night with my best friend before my flight to Rhode Island. I prefer flying out of Dallas, even though there is a small regional airport in the city where I live. It also gives me an excuse to spend time with my best friend and her kids, who have thought of me as their uncle since birth.

As I was driving, I was listening to Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide. At this point, I have spent more than two years listening to Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff tell me about heinous crimes. While I’m aware they’re not everybody’s cup of tea for so many reasons, they are exactly my cup of tea. So I knew this memoir was exactly what I needed for my drive. And as I listened to their words, I was overcome with tears.

Now, to be fair, I’ve had a really tough few weeks at work. I’ve experienced stress from a million angles and I haven’t have a chance to properly sort through anything I’ve been feeling. But something about their words, about this book existing, and this particular drive hit home for me. Something Georgia said about going to see Ray Bradbury speak after his books essentially saved her life.

After she had the chance to talk to him in person (oh my God, can you imagine? I’d have died for real.) and give him a letter she’d written for him. In the mail a few weeks later, she received a package from THE Ray Bradbury himself. In it was a letter thanking her for her kinds words, and a copy of Zen in the Art of Writing, which he’d signed and inscribed on the inside: Onward!

To say that I was a wreck as Georgia told this story was an understatement. I was moved to tears. I was an odd mixture of jealousy and joyous. I felt so glad for Georgia and so broken for myself. I have never gotten that opportunity, to meet my writing idol. I have never had the experience of somebody I admire telling me to keep pushing, that it’ll happen for me one day. But she did. And for a moment I could live vicariously through her.

I’m not sure what about that particular car ride broke in me, but things became so clear to me, it was like a revelation.

I have become afraid of writing. It’s not writer’s block; I’ve overcome that many times before. It’s not even my depression or my ADHD or anything else. It’s an absolute, stop-me-in-my-tracks fear of writing. I had been putting so much stake on my self label as a writer, that I’d allowed the label to overtake my as a person. And when I couldn’t write, didn’t feel inspired or hated what I wrote, then I thought “well, I guess I’m not really a writer.”

Nobody had reminded me to keep pressing onward. Well, that’s not entirely true. Everybody had encouraged me to keep pressing onward. Just…not the right people. Mainly myself.

Every time I sat down to write, all I could see was rejection letters in my head. The word no stamped in big red letters all over everything I’ve ever written. I couldn’t see the readers on Wattpad who believe in me. I couldn’t see my friends who encourage me, who are my sounding boards and keep my uplifted and confident. All I could see was rejection.

And for whatever reason, that day, in that car, with Georgia Hardstark and Ray Bradbury, I felt everything fall away. I felt the shackles loosen. I felt me crawl out of this hole. And I declared myself a writer once more.

It doesn’t matter who believes in your dreams. Everybody on earth can want what’s best for you. What matters is that you believe in your dreams. That you believe in them enough to chase them no matter who stands in your way, no matter what stands in your way. No matter the amount of nos you get in your life.

I guess I just need a little bit of murder, a little bit of cynicism, a little bit of sunshine, and a little bit of alone time to remember that for myself.

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